The Catcher in the Rye

By J.D. Salinger
277 pages in paperback. Published by BACK BAY BOOKS / LITTLE BROWN AND COMPANY
ISBN 978-0-316-76917-4

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Book Title:

I have always wondered why this book is titled “The Cather in the Rye“. Isn’t Rye a type of flour? An internet search reveals that Rye is a grass grown extensively as a grain, crop cover or forage crop. So maybe this story is about baseball, in the same style as the movie “Field of Dreams”

About the Author:

J. D. Salinger is an American author best known for “The Cather in the Rye”. He began writing stories while in secondary school. He became reclusive after the success of the book drew public attention and scrutiny. He also published new and original work less frequently.

Salinger was considered a mediocre student while at the Valley Forge Military Academy. He did not do much better while at Columbia until a few weeks before graduation when he completed three stories. He became a vegetarian after trying to learn about “the meat business” in Austria and Poland.

About the Book:

The book is a 277 page paperback print by Back Bay Books Publishing, ISBN 978-0-316-76917-4


The story is narrated by the main character, Holden Caulfield. I found the first few sentences regarding David Copperfield confusing. Why? Because the David Copperfield I know was a magician, and he was born after Salinger published the book. A quick search cleared this up. David Copperfield is a book by Charles Dickens.

A few more pages in and I quickly realized that Holden complained a lot. He complained about how he found people to be phony and that he could not stand them. That Adults are phony, his classmates were phony, girls were phony. That even if they like you they were still phony. The school he flunked out of and eventually got expelled from is a phony. Even people he thought he knew well, like Mr. Antolini, a teacher of his. Or he could just be misinterpreting how the events occurred.

There was only one person he did not find phony, and this was his sister, “old” Phoebe. She could get him to do things.

The narration also uses plenty of cuss words. Well, maybe back in the 1950s these wound be cuss words. Today these are very tame. But for the puritanical 1950s, maybe a little too much.

I remember being a teenager. I was also full of disgust with how people were. It comes with the territory. We are idealist with a set amount of beliefs that could not be bent. We were always right and everybody else was wrong. We also had our vices. Some of us smoked, and some drank. Others did both.

The last few pages of the story gave the impression that Holden was in a group meeting. Perhaps with a doctor in therapy. That this may be his eventual faith is revealed during his visit to the home of Mr. Antolini. Not directly but in so many words but you could feel that eventually, Holden would need to seek professional help. Or that interpretation could just be a sign of our times when everything “wrong” with kids can be solved with a pill or two. And some counseling.

The story is simple, and relatable. It is about a teenager complaining about life. Maybe I would have appreciated this more back in my younger years. But at my age, I would rather not spend my time reading about complaints. I hear enough of that in real life. I would not recommend this book not because it isn’t good. It is a very popular book. It is just not for me.

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